Can Cats Get Bloat? (Causes, Symptoms, GDV, Explained)

Can Cats Get Bloat

If your cat has a swollen stomach they may just be fat, as a lot of cats are. But it may also be a sign that your kitty has a condition called bloat.

Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation is a condition where a cat’s stomach becomes too full with food or air and results in a bloated appearance along with some health complications.

Hence the name, bloat, right.

If not noticed early enough or left untreated, bloat can progress and cause gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV).

GDV is a potentially life-threatening condition that is more common in dogs, but not unheard of in cats.

If you’re concerned about your cat’s health in any way, you should always consult a vet for a professional evaluation. 

How Do I Know if My Cat Is Bloated or Fat?

Let’s not avoid the obvious here, domestic cats have become lazy for the most part – especially if they’re indoor cats – and many are overweight.

There is a huge difference between a fat cat and a bloated cat though, especially from a health perspective.

A fat cat just needs a little more playtime and stimulation and fewer treats. Unless they’re morbidly obese, they shouldn’t need veterinary care.

While a cat with bloat is going to need veterinary care. It’s a serious health condition that you can’t help yourself.

Some of the key signs that a cat might be suffering from bloat are:

If you get up close and feel your cat’s stomach, it should be fairly obvious if there is something more going on than just a few extra pounds around the waist.

You also know your cat better than anyone. Cats are pretty good at hiding when they’re sick or injured, but as owners, we usually know when something is not right.

Bloat, in particular, is hard for a cat to hide. There are both physical cues, as well as behavioral changes.

If you’re really not sure though, as in if something doesn’t look or feel right, you should absolutely call your vet for advice.

What Causes Stomach Bloat in Cats?

Bloat most commonly occurs when food, liquid, or gas gets trapped in a cat’s stomach and causes it to expand.

The reason why this first happens is not always known, and different cats are affected in different ways.

With that said, the most common causes of bloat are:

  • Eating and/or drinking too quickly
  • Swallowing a lot of air (known as aerophagia)
  • Stress and/or anxiety
  • Overstimulation or exercising too much
  • An underlying stomach disease

What Causes Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) In Cats?

GDV is a more complicated and potentially dangerous health condition that affects cats and can develop as a result of bloat.

As Pinion Veterinary Hospital explains, there are essentially two parts to GDV;

  • the first is when the stomach bloats or dilates,
  • then the second stage is when the stomach undergoes torsion or volvulus

Volvulus means a cat’s stomach is twisting, which can happen when the stomach expands and rotates to the point where it’s twisting itself closed.

GDV causes the stomach to bloat further, puts more painful pressure on the abdomen, decreases blood flow, and damages the cat’s cardiovascular system.

The symptoms are much more severe than bloat, and it’s more of an emergency situation.

What Can You Do for a Bloated Cat?

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do for your cat at home if it’s bloated. Your cat is going to need veterinary care, and as soon as possible.

Veterinary care usually involves inserting a tube into a cat’s stomach to empty the contents. A relatively routine procedure for a vet, but not something you can do as an owner!

Your vet will also take x-rays and draw blood to test so they can rule out other conditions and evaluate your cat’s general health.

If volvulus has also occurred, surgery will be necessary. A vet has to return a cat’s internal organs to their normal positioning and secure the stomach.

In Summary

Cats can get bloat, it’s a serious condition that you need to seek veterinary assistance for if you suspect or know that your cat has bloat.

Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), which can follow on from bloat is an even more serious health condition that can quickly become fatal.


Image credits – Photo by Kat von Wood on Unsplash

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